Chapter 19 : Love Me, Love Me Not
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Love Me, Love Me Not
It was dark.
There were small splatters of colors. But you couldn't really call them colors. They were too dim to be classified as bright, but too potent to be nonexistent. They moved along freely in distinguishable patterns; diagonal, horizontal, vertical, but then straying into movements completely foreign to describe. Once in a while there would be a bright white dot passing by, resembling that of a bright sun. Those moments were the only thing that kept her hopes up that there was a chance for her to live. But when they disappeared fear and dread washed back over, enveloping her and dragging her deeper. After a time, she welcomed death—begged for it. But it wouldn't grab a hold of her. Every time she felt it come closer, it would be drawn away by something. Some invisible emotionless force was pushing it away. In this state of mind, she couldn't feel anything but numbness, so anger at death's procrastination was absent. But she did wonder vaguely if she was dead already. What did death feel like, anyway? And if she wasn't dead, where was she?
She didn't know how long she had been like this. An hour? A day? A week? A month? Time seemed to pass without incident. She knew that the clock was running, but didn't know how fast or how slow. For all she knew, she could be a vegetable and would spend the rest of her life like this. This was her punishment for being weak. She had failed what she had been set out to do and instead had experienced the most dangerous emotion of all. She had fallen in love. It didn't matter anymore that she had been used, lied to, and taken advantage of. The fact was that before she gave into the darkness, she had expressed that she had, in fact, fallen in love with Harry. As long as he knew, she would be at ease. But then why did she feel so empty—so cold? Love was about letting the other person know that you felt the same way and then it was done. Right? No regrets, no emptiness. Maybe she was different. Maybe she was destined to never be in love and when she ultimately did, it would be miserable so that she would suffer instead of feel complete like she was meant to.
Hermione Granger. Whoever thought that Hermione Granger would fall in love? Not her, not the Dark Lord, not anyone. She had always followed commands, never once went against authority. But then she met Harry and it all turned into shit in a matter weeks! She had always hated him—for all the wrong reasons, she now knew—but hated him nonetheless. It seemed as though the people she loved (in theory) she hated, and the people she hated she loved. She was one screwed up broad. At least before she died she would die knowing that Harry loved her.
He might be dead right now. She had left him while her head was lolled in his lap and could hear him crying. She wished that she would have weaseled in an apology. But no, the most important thing had been to tell him that she loved him. Pay no mind that she ultimately led him to his own death. She loved him. Yeah, that would go well. Why die at the hand of your arch nemesis when you were loved? What a lovely picture. He was most likely dead, and here she was in limbo wallowing in self pity. At least, she thought it was limbo. She couldn't cry here, she could barely think here, so why was she here? If she was dead, she might as well be able to be miserable. But she could feel nothing but the darkness she was surrounded in. She is all alone. Or, she was.
She could hear muffled noises coming from every which way. She wanted to move so that she could find them, but she was immobile. At first, she thought it was just her mind playing tricks on her, but the sounds grew louder and there was no use denying that they were there. Maybe they were there to take her away, to help her escape from this place. But as they grew louder and she braced herself for them to take her, nothing happened. They weren't there to help her. They were just there. The muffles then slowly turned sharper and more defined. Words? Yes, they must be words. There was no other way to describe them. They soon became clearer and she could make out small bits.
“…it was luck that I found you…”
“I know and I… stupid… accident…”
The voices weren't directed towards her. They were just voices conversing with the other as if…
She wasn't dead!
She tried desperately to reach out and listen to the voices. They grew sharper the harder she pulled so she gave it her all. She wanted to know who was there and where she was now. It wasn't limbo or death, which was a relief. It seemed she was pushing herself into reality again. She didn't quite know what lay ahead of her, but she was anxious to figure it out.
“Why was the girl with you, then?”
“She wanted to come with me.”
“And you let her?!”
There was a pause. “Well yeah. I didn't want to leave her behind.”
Another pause. “You love her, don't you?”
“I used to think so… but…”
Now that she was out of limbo, emotions were now part of her being. They chose that moment to crash onto her and she felt the weight of them knock her forward. The dark abyss that she was stuck in before washed away into a bath of light. Instead of feeling nothing, she regained the awareness of her body. The familiar sensation was a welcome relief and she moved her fingers out of reflex to check that it was real. It was.
The voice was like an angel. She felt a pressure on the hand she had just moved and a rush of fire moved from the tips of her fingers to her shoulder. It was Harry. She tried to open her eyes, but they felt like they were stapled shut. She must have gotten the image across that she was awake, however, because the pressure increased and she heard him speak again.
“Hermione? Hermione! Can you hear me?”
Yes! She wanted to say, Yes I can and I want to tell you I'm sorry!
Her lips wouldn't move so he took that as a “No.” The pressure left and she wanted to reach out and touch him. She had moved her fingers, so why couldn't she tug on his arm? She tried but couldn't get it a centimeter off of wherever she was laying. It felt soft, so she concluded that she wasn't in the forest anymore. She must have been moved when she was in limbo. Well, what she thought was limbo. Oh fuck it, it was limbo!
Her anger began to pool as she kept trying to move her arm. Why did her body choose now to freeze up? Pressing one more time against the invisible weight she felt a burst of adrenaline pass through her and she groped for his arm. She came into contact with it and as soon as she touched him she could hear him intake a large amount of breath. The moment she felt his grimy shirt under her fingertips, her eyes shot open as a strike of lightning shot through her.
“Hermione?” he asked uncertainly.
Her eyes focused quickly to the bright light as she looked up at Harry, whose emerald eyes were shining with concern. She tried her best to smile as she spoke in a husky voice. “Harry, you're alive.”
He smiled back at her and nodded. She moved around a bit so her back was resting up against the bed she was laying on. Her vision began to get fuzzy again and she keeled over.
“Whoa take it easy!” He said as he helped her lean against the headboard again. After making sure she was secure, he removed his hands quickly and averted his eyes.
Hermione took the opportunity to observe her surroundings. The brick walls, multiple cots, and faint smell of pepper-up potion all led her to believe she was in the hospital wing. How did she end up here? She took a good look at Harry and saw how beaten up he was; any visible skin was covered in dirt, his eyes were bloodshot, and his hair was even messier than usual—and not in the good way. He didn't look like he could speak two sentences yet alone carry her to the hospital wing or even levitate her. She felt the strength to speak make its way up her throat and she said the first thing that came to her mind.
He turned sharply to her and she flinched when she saw the look on his face. His jaw was clenched and his eyes narrowed. It all suggested that he was going to yell at her, so she braced herself by shifting a bit more in her place. The blow never came. She slowly looked back up at Harry and saw him looking at the mattress. “Yeah… me too”
“What—what do you have to be sorry for?” she asked, testing the ground.
He gave her an icy glare that sent shivers down her spine. “For trusting you”
She flinched. That one hurt. “Well I suppose I deserve that.”
“You deserve a lot more than that. You should be dead right now—in Azkaban maybe.”
“Look Harry, I know right now I must seem like the worst person on Earth and—”
“If you're going to try and explain, you might as well save it.” He interrupted. “I don't want to hear your petty excuses. Not now, not ever.”
“But if you just—”
“No, Hermione.” He said sternly. “I've had enough of your lies.”
Hermione bowed her head down. “You're right.”
His head snapped up, but she didn't notice. She was too busy studying the sheets that were pooled on her lap. Her vision began to blur once again, but not accompanied with the dizziness that would cause her to keel over. This time, her haze was caused by a well of tears. Even though she knew that she deserved every bit of his harsh words, it still stung. He had been so tender with her before, up until she had been writing on the forest floor. Even then, he had cradled her in his arms and begged for her to come back to him. But he must have changed his mind in the time she was in limbo. That's just what she deserved. She had love and now she had lost it.
Wiping the unshed tears from her eyes, she looked back up to see him still looking at her. He must be looking at her for a reaction, testing her. Well she wouldn't fail this test. “So what happened—after I… erm…” She didn't know exactly how to describe what had happened.
“Died?” He supplied.
“Well when Voldermort was… torturing you he had no intent to stop. But Moony jumped out of the bushes and pounced him. They all apparated away and good `ol Tom swore he'd be back for me. But you must know that, of course.”
The last comment threw her back. “Excuse me?”
“Well you're a Death Eater, right? Shouldn't your twisted tattoo be throbbing by now?”
“My twisted tattoo?” She asked dangerously.
“Yeah, you know that thing on your forearm that alerts you when your master wants you.”
“I know what you meant! I don't have one.”
“You can't fool me.” He said teasingly, “Every one of your kind has one.”
“Everyone except me. Don't you think you would have noticed it by now? Especially after last night?” He gulped and his face turned a light shade of pink.
“Last night was a…”
“Mistake?” He nodded and her stomach plummeted. “And what about this morning?”
“That was a mistake, too.”
“And what about the part where you said you loved me?”
“That was a—” he stopped himself and turned to glare at her. “Unfortunate flaw on my part.”
“Right.” She whispered. It was amazing how much things could change. First he loved her, and now he didn't.
The awkward moment between them was interrupted by the doors to the hospital wing squeaking open. Both Harry and Hermione turned to look at the man entering the wing. He wore a shabby looking suit and looked a mix between tired and sick. As he got closer, she could see he had graying light brown hair and a small amount of stubble on his chin. He was holding two goblets in his hands with steam emitting from each one. The man smiled as he stopped close to Harry and gave her a quick once over.
Harry twisted his neck and said in a solemn voice, “Hello Moony.”
“Harry.” He looked back over at Hermione and she managed a small smile despite her current mood. “Care to properly introduce me to your friend?”
“Do it yourself.” He said sourly as he got up from the chair he had been sitting in and brushed past the startled man. The doors slammed shut behind him and echoed throughout the silent room.
The man blew out a puff of air and sat in the now vacant seat gingerly. He was still holding both goblets and took a drink out of one. Slowly looking over at Hermione, he handed her the other goblet. She took it carefully and held it with wobbly hands, not knowing what to make of the gesture.
“I didn't poison it, you know.” He said jokingly. Hermione looked at him curiously and he smiled, motioning to the steaming goblet. “It was meant for Harry but since he's indisposed at the moment, I think you'd benefit more from it.”
Taking that as a good enough reason to drink it, she complied. She studied him for a moment over her cup. He must have been the other man that Harry was talking too. Harry had called him Moony—no way! “You're Remus Lupin.”
“The one and only. I suppose you've heard of my… erm disability as well?”
“Yeah… you're a werewolf.”
“It doesn't make you feel uncomfortable or anything does it?”
“No! No, not at all.” She said quickly. “I admire you, actually. I have ever since I've heard of you. You go about life as if you have nothing wrong with you and when people give you crap about it, you just let it happen. No violence or anything. It's a nice relief, you know? Usually when people are discriminated against, they resort to methods like rebellion and violence. But you go around, acting as if you are just a member of normal Wizarding society, proving that you belong there.”
He looked surprised for a moment, “I never expected you to be so…”
“Understanding?” Remus nodded. “I suppose Harry told you that I'm a Death Eater, then?”
“He might have mentioned it.”
She nodded tensely. “Well you'll be relieved to know that he is seriously misinformed.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah.” She looked over at him and smiled sadly. “But you probably won't want to know about my side of the story either.”
“On the contrary…”
“Hermione.” He gave her a warm smile. “On the contrary, I am very interested to hear your side of the story.”
“Really?” She asked slowly.
“Well I'm not actually a Death Eater. I guess you could call me a Death Eater in training. I was supposed to make friends with Harry so that the Dark Lord could get to him easier. But I…”
“Fell in love with him instead?” Hermione gave him an aghast look and he smirked. “You don't hide it as well as you think you do.”
She blushed. “Well the mission didn't really go as planned. But if it did—go as planned I mean—I would have been his second in command. That was what I was led to believe anyway. Now I don't think he was ever going to let me have any say in my future. Turns out he was just using me for his own benefits. Not that it mattered much. I had already turned my back on him awhile ago after I… had a change of heart.”
There was a long silence and she thought that he was going to get up and leave, just like Harry. Taking another sip of the drink (which she now identified as hot lemon tea), she waited for him storm out. It was inevitable, really. Who would sympathize with the Death Eater?
“Harry hasn't heard your side of the story, has he?”
She shook her head, “He stormed out before I could explain.”
“Just give him time to cool off. I know he loves you, Hermione. He's just going through a rough patch. I can't imagine how his girlfriend being a Death Eater in training is affecting his state of mind.”
“Oh I'm not his girlfriend.” She corrected lightly. He gave her a knowing look and she bit her lip. Was she? She took another sip of her tea and noticed something. “Why haven't you run out the door yet?”
He chuckled, “My dear I have no reason to be judgmental because you aren't what society defines as `normal'. After hearing what you have to say, I know that you truly have a heart of gold and though Harry might not see it, you're here because of your sacrifices.”
“What do you mean?”
He leaned closer to her, “You're aware of how Harry survived the first time Voldermort attempted to kill him?” She nodded. “Well, because of his love for you, and your love for him, you survived. When I levitated you and Harry back to the castle, you were dead. But by the time Harry pulled through and saw you, your fate was decided. Harry's love is a gift not given often, but when received, it is the ultimate source of protection. Back when Sirius was alive, we discussed how there might be the possibility that because of Lily's sacrifice, Harry would have a love inside of him so powerful that it could bring back the dead. It was more of a theory than anything, but it turns out that my old friend was right.”
“W-why are you telling me all of this?” She asked shakily.
He grinned and she could scarcely see a shadow of how handsome he must have been in his youth. “Because you deserve to know.”
“I don't deserve anything.”
“Just because you've made a few mistakes doesn't mean you have to be punished for the rest of your life. Harry will come around, I know he will. But until then you have to stay strong.”
She nodded, sniffling a little. “You really shouldn't be so nice to be.”
“Like I said before, I have no room to judge.” He looked down at his goblet and frowned. “Excuse me for a moment, Hermione, it seems as though I've run out of tea. Do you want me to fetch you some more while I'm down there?”
“No thanks Mr. Lupin.”
“Please, call me Remus.”
“Alright. No thanks Remus.” She said with a whisper of a smile.
He smiled back at her and exited the room, leaving her all alone. She had never been in this part of the castle before. It was odd being alone in such a large room. None of the other cots were occupied, which was a bit of a shock. Usually a hospital had more than one occupant in it at a time. It was sort of creepy. The only sounds were that of the strong winds against the windows. Turning to look out the one nearest to her, she saw that it was raining. How ironic.
A sudden creaking noise caused Hermione to jump in her seat and snap her neck back over to the door. She suspected it was just Remus returning with their tea but was surprised to see a head of platinum hair looking at her apprehensively, almost studying her, like he didn't believe she was real.
She smiled at him, “Hi Draco.”
He ran over to her and enveloped her in a hug. She squeezed him back hard and felt him pull away. Their noses were touching and she could see tears in his eyes. She wiped them away as he pulled back and sat close to her on the cot. He sniffed and looked her in the eyes, “I—I thought you were—”
“I was. But I'm back now.”
“Mia, I don't know what to say. I mean, I knew that you were going to be there when Potter was… you know. But I had no idea that he would kill you.”
“Neither did I. But I guess when you change sides he gets a little miffed.”
“You… you're changing sides?” He asked.
She nodded. “He was using me, Draco. He lied to me about my parents. I don't even know if my name is actually Hermione. I was fighting for all the wrong reasons.”
He looked at her sadly, “Wow. Mia I-I'm so sorry.”
“It's alright.” She said softly.
“No it's not.” She looked up at him curiously, “Listen, we've been together since we were in diapers and I can't stand around watching you get hurt. I love you. You're my best friend.”
“Draco you can't just leave! Your father will blow a gasket.”
He nodded, “But you're worth it.”
She smiled and saw him lean in. Before she could stop him, their lips collided. It was a soft kiss, but she still felt the emotion he was pouring into it. When he said “I love you” he didn't mean platonically. She was about to push him off and explain her feelings towards him and more importantly, towards Harry, when a loud, angry voice echoed through the room.
“GET YOUR SLIMY PAWS OFF OF HER, FERRET!”
They sprung apart and Hermione saw Harry looking murderous. Her eyes flicked to Draco and saw him smirking over at him. This wasn't going to be good.
Draco stood up and approached Harry slowly, “Ahh Potter, so nice of you to join us.”
“What are you doing here, Malfoy?” Harry said through clenched teeth.
Draco lifted his arms up innocently, “I was just having some catch up time with Mia here.”
“Mia?” Harry spat disgustingly. “What kind of hideous nickname is that?”
“The kind of nickname that shows history”
“History of what, exactly?”
Draco smirked, “History of f—”
“STOP IT!” Hermione screamed. They both looked at her and glared at them. “Stop fighting! It's not going to get you anywhere.”
“Shut it.” She warned. She turned to Harry, “Harry, what are you doing here?”
“Am I not allowed to be in the hospital wing?”
“Not when I'm the only one in here and you stormed out for no apparent reason.”
“No apparent—you're a fucking Death Eater and you never told me! Sorry if it takes a while to let it sink in that you were plotting to kill me when I thought you were my friend.”
She scoffed, “You never even took the time to hear my side of the story.”
“Why should I?”
“Because I love you!” She screamed. He looked taken aback and she took his silence as an advantage. “Didn't the fact that my last words to you before I died were `I love you' have any effect whatsoever?”
There was a pregnant silence between the three of them. Hermione had tears welling up in her eyes, Harry was biting his lip, and Draco looked as though he were about to vomit. They were all saved from having to break the ice by the doors slamming open and an out-of-breath Remus bracing himself against the frame. All eyes were on him as he panted out a single sentence that made all three of their blood streams go ice cold.
“Voldermort… he's… here… now!”
All hell had broken loose.
A/N: Thanks again for all of your amazing feedback! You guys are awesome.